Rail campaigners in Calderdale have called on Boris Johnson’s new government to get the electrification of the Calder Valley line back on track.
Stephen Waring, chair of the Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG) wants the Calder Valley line to be address in the government’s transport policy as a matter of urgency.
The call comes after the Prime Minister vowed to overhaul Yorkshire’s train network and reiterated his commitment to the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail Project, which will link Northern cities from Liverpool to Hull.
And he promised detailed plans for the first stage of the scheme from Leeds to Manchester by the autumn, following a review into the Government’s high-speed rail project HS2.
“HADRAG obviously welcomes any confirmed commitment to investment in rail in the North,” said Mr Waring. “But we need to make it clear that passengers on the Calder Valley Line are desperate for upgraded services, more capacity and better reliability now. The proposed high speed line between Leeds and Manchester could still be decades away and looks like it will have just one stop in Bradford en route, effectively bypassing community stations in Calderdale.
“Our Calder Valley train service needs continuing modernisation building on current progress. New trains, hopefully arriving this year, will be a start, but as a priority the Government needs to make the railway deliver franchise promises to increase services providing more capacity and better connectivity for local stations. Northern Rail should be running Calder Valley services to Manchester Airport but this is not now going to happen this December because capacity improvements in Manchester were shelved by the Department for Transport.
“Equally we need an urgent start on electrification to create a Calder Valley Line that is truly modern, playing a full role in tackling the Climate Emergency. Electric trains are more cost effective to run than ones using so called ‘alternative fuels’. The railway industry now says costs can be reduced further through a rolling programme of wiring, where teams move on from project to project, gaining skills and working smartly. If we are to progress towards a zero-carbon transport system, strategic routes like ours need full electrification as called for by our Electric Railway Charter.
“Four years ago the Northern Electrification Task Force made the Calder Valley the top priority in an initial five-year programme of schemes. So we want the new administration to reverse the policies of the previous Secretary of State and give the go ahead to such a rolling electrification programme of existing strategic routes across the North. That commitment must come first.”